New Twists on Traditional Fair

Hutchinson New Article - Published online 9/4/2008 11:10 PM

Through creative foods, wacky contests and events, new adventures await.

By Amy Bickel - The Hutchinson News -

Creatures big and small.

Oh, and a few things ginormous, like a 20-foot rolling television, several-hundred-pound pumpkins and a huge fish tank.

So what is there to do at the Kansas State Fair? Plenty. And for longtime fairgoers, there are a few new things to see as well.

While there are several other sites, here are the top 12 things to do at this year's fair.

  1. Just ask MacGyver ...

    Duct tape will fix anything.

    Nevertheless, there is another concept for duct tape at this year's state fair - clothes. The new contest allows folks to make a wearable item out of duct tape, or they can enter a duct-tape masterpiece in the "create your own" category. Items can be made with any color of duct tape, but they must be created using 90 percent duct tape. Maybe you'll see someone's prom dress, a mini skirt or a tuxedo when you visit the Domestic Arts Building.

  2. Not for purchase ...

    A massive, 20-foot television will roll across the fairgrounds during the 10-day fair.

    No, it is not for purchase.

    However, the gigantic screen, known as the "DTV Trekker," is traversing 95,000 miles throughout the country with a nobler mission: to help educate consumers about the transition from analog to digital TV. The National Association of Broadcasters, the group sponsoring the exhibit, states that the transition will affect 14 percent of Kansas households. Check it out on Pride of Kansas Drive.

  3. Man vs. Wild

    From deep in the swamps of Florida comes Kachunga, a real American bushman who dares to step into the wet domain of the alligator. This man makes Crocodile Dundee look like a wimp. Spectators will learn a little bit about alligator biology, as well as what might trigger them to attack. In addition, they'll watch Kachunga apprehend the reptile with his bare hands. Shows are in Gottschalk Park at 11 a.m. and 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. daily during the fair.

  4. Wandering drummers

    This trio of drummers turns five-gallon water jugs, stools, pots, pans... any flat surface available, into legitimate musical instruments. Interspersed with drumming, the troupe jumps, slides, twists and stomps fast and furious in a rhythmic style. Maybe it will inspire future musicians, or noisemakers. The group wanders the fairgrounds daily.

  5. Greensburg-themed quilt

    The theme for this year's quilt block contest is "Tribute to Greensburg" - the Kiowa County seat town that was struck by a tornado in May 2007. Kansans' quilt blocks will be judged during the fair, then constructed into a quilt this winter. The quilt will be auctioned at the 2009 fair with the proceeds split between a Greensburg charity and the fair's clothing and textiles department. Last year's sunflower-themed quilt will be auctioned at 4 p.m. Sept. 13 at the AT&T Arena.

  6. Take a ride in the sky

    In a helicopter, that is.

    For just $40, take a 5-minute ride around the fair, courtesy of Kansas Copters, and El Dorado operation owned by Schreib-Air. The copter ride is north of the carnival.

  7. Pork on a stick? Oh, my!

    Well, it's not as crazy as alligator-on-a-stick, which has been a fair staple for several years, but it is one of the new offerings this year. Or, at least, the business offering the product is new. What's Kookin will have all things pork at its booth. Other foods that might catch someone's eye include: chocolate meatballs, stuffed cucumbers and something called shipwreck; also on a stick: churro, ham and cheese and sausage; as well as all things deep-fried: peaches, pickles, bologna and Coke. Eat your fruits and vegetables The first farmers' market in about 15 years at the Kansas State Fair will take place on the fairgrounds, thanks to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Farmers from across the state will participate in the market, including offering fruits and veggies, honey, meats, baked goods and flowers. The exhibit, opened all 10 days of the fair, will have offerings both weekends. Hours are 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today; 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday and Sept. 12; and 3 to 6 p.m. Sept. 13 and 14. The market is at 606 Fort Leavenworth Blvd.

  8. Gone fishing

    Learn to fish at the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks' 40-foot aquarium. That's one big aquarium - so big and with so much glass that officials have to put ice in it to keep the water from getting too hot. The aquarium is near the sky ride and Gate 9.

  9. Freestyle motocross

    X-Games winners will be at the fair, thanks to the largest international promoter of freestyle motocross. The 21/2-hour competition features 10 of the world's best riders performing incredible jumps and airborne stunts. Names include several superstars of the sport such as X-Games gold medalist "Mad" Mike Jones and X-Games silver medalist Jeff "Ox" Kargola. In addition to high-flying dirt bikes, fans can get autographs from their favorite riders at the Boost Mobile "Spider" tent. The show is 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Sprint Grandstand. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger.

  10. New smile

    Step right up and get a whiter smile. The company Dream Catcher is offering "Dazzling Smiles" at this year's fair. To see the feat, stop by the Sunflower South or Meadowlark buildings.

  11. Let your fingers do the talking

    There already are goat-milking and grape-stomping contests and one that showcases the great pumpkin, but this year fair officials are looking for folks with another skill. They seek fast thumbs. Moreover, it wouldn't hurt if you know some lingo, like LOL or WDYT, BTW. That means "lots of laughs" and "what do you think," "by the way." Hitting the 21st century, officials will launch a cell phone texting contest, sponsored by U.S. Cellular. Speed, as well as correct spelling, determines the winner. Anyone can enter. The contest finals will be at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Lake Talbott Stage.